Sewing magazines. The need for change.

This post has taken me a long time to write and indeed taken a lot of thought. We live In a World where things change at an unprecedented speed: We also, sadly, see many things that take forever to change. Now I’m not going to start talking about politics or religion and things that I don’t really understand but stick to sewing, particularly Sewing Magazines. There have been a few things, recently, that have made me write this, so here goes.

Whats the point of sewing magazines?

Well, I’m not entirely sure anymore. I used to like sitting down and having a read through the articles, get some inspiration and look at what others had made but things have started to get repetitive and quite frankly boring. We are constantly seeing the same/similar articles in different named magazines and please don’t mention the advertisements! I know magazines exist to make money but seriously, why so many adverts? Can a magazine not be profitable without pages and pages of adverts?

Ah! The free sewing patterns that come with a magazine, now that has to be a good thing? Well no, not really. Often the patterns are really dull. And lets not mention if you are over a certain dress size, as the chance of getting a free pattern that fits you is even less likely. Before any magazine editors start shouting at me, yes there has been an effort to provide alternative sized patterns, which is good but you could try harder.

Now I have been privileged enough to write articles for different magazines, which I really enjoyed doing, particularly for Sew Now. This magazine, when it started, promised to be a little different from the others. It was aimed at the beginner, provided alternative size patterns and had good reviews. I wrote a monthly article for them for 17 months but then the magazine ‘changed direction’ and my article stopped. Sadly it started to become the same as the rest of the sewing magazines. Still it was good while it lasted.

It seems that most UK magazines are produced for the beginner as they rarely tackle difficult/alternative sewing techniques or discuss more technical aspects. Yes we were all beginners once but we practice, honing our skills to become more proficient. It is at this point sewing magazines fail. There are no articles that challenge your skills or push you take the next steps.

Alternative magazines?

Well there are alternative sewing magazines that attempt to fill the gap. Threads magazine from the US is a much better magazine, in my opinion, as it covers a much larger base of sewing skills and knowledge. The problem is it is often difficult to find here in the UK but you can subscribe.

A relative newcomer to the UK is La Maison Victor. A Belgium publication that is actually very good. It comes with several, on trend, patterns in each issue. OK I know there will be people moaning about having to trace the patterns and add the seam allowance! Honestly, you don’t already trace your patterns before making? A multi-sized pattern is exactly that! Trace the size you want then you can use the pattern again for a different size. OK I admit adding a seam allowance can be tedious but you can add what you like to allow for better fitting and often save the need to make a toile. OK the magazine has a few issues with translation of instructions but nothing too serious. Hang on….It’s also not full of adverts? How can they make money? Perhaps from selling to an audience that want to read it?

Now comes my real issue with sewing magazines. WHERE ARE THE MEN? Why are there no patterns for men? Have you ever seen a man on the front cover of a sewing magazine? There are many men who sew and many women that want to sew for men but magazines are not providing for us. This really became apparent to me last month when La Maison Victor had an entire issue dedicated to menswear! Yes a whole magazine with 8 mens patterns! In fact nearly every issue has had something for men.

Men Do Sew!

Why are sewing magazines (LMV excluded) failing to provide for men, or those who want to sew for men? Does it damage sales to include menswear patterns or articles? I doubt it but something needs to change. What about men who are beginning their sewing journey but don’t want to make dresses, skirts or some pointless sewing related ornament? They are not likely to pop into the supermarket and pick up a sewing magazine are they? I realise that the number of men who sew is much smaller than the number of women (we are a minority) but men and menswear is being neglected by the magazines. Perhaps we would not be such a minority if magazines catered more for us and helped encourage men to take up sewing? Magazines do occasionally feature token ‘men-who-sew’ type article but it is not enough. Sewing is such a wonderful hobby/craft that can be done by anyone regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or belief and magazines should be providing for all of their customers and not just thinking about the profit.

So what can we do? I doubt my ranting will make any difference at all but it needs to be addressed. In fact I will challenge any of the UK sewing magazines to put a man on the front cover and give away a menswear pattern (and not a neck tie or bow-tie)……Will they? No, as the risk of less sales that month would be too high for them.

I shall be using the hashtag #MenDoSew and please feel free to do the same if you agree with me. Use the logo too and share to your followers.

What are your thoughts? Should magazines provide more content for men? Would you be happy seeing some menswear patterns in a magazine? Please let me know.

Come on, lets see a little more for men in UK sewing magazines and perhaps a pattern or two? (We don’t just wear ties or T-shirts). It’s time you moved on, found a new lease of life and took a leaf from LMV don’t you think?

Until next time…..Happy Sewing!



39 thoughts on “Sewing magazines. The need for change.”

  1. I agree. I find fitting for myself is super awkward so I’d love to make items for my husband. More than boring boxers or shirts.

  2. I think you probably know my opinion about the state of UK sewing magazines. The quality of instructions and pictures/diagrams are poor, far too many words and not enough detailed pictures. In my opinion magazines are part of the process of educating the population, therefore the quality of their garments should be inspirational, if we see poor quality that’s what we aspire towards. All that’s before we start discussing diversity, I often make for men and during years of teaching really loved inspiring young men to make things from fabric, they loved using sewing machines and I’m sure that didn’t end at 14!
    At 63yrs of age I actually find uk mags really frumpy. I could go on …….

    1. As you say Di there just is no inspiration in Sewing magazines at the present. They should be inspiring men and women (boys and girls) equally.

    2. Yes Do. I am 72 and find the patterns are for very mundane clothes. I like something a bit challenging with interesting seams and details. Also would love some good patterns for menswear.

    3. I also hate the fact there aren’t enough pictures or diagrams. I’m a visual learner, I need to see what to do.

      Have you noticed that the same person or 2 seem to write multiple projects for all the sewing magazines now? It’s no wonder they are all samey. I think the problem is magazine’s budgets are being cut so much they can’t afford to attract a good range of contributors to get some variety.

  3. Magazines make money only on advertisements. They could give the magazine away but people would not “subscribe”
    I have lived without magazines for years. I sew a lot. I cannot imagine any magazine providing me with thoughts.
    “Threads” has excellent videos on youtube but I would not want the book itself, especially a subscription. Habit only keeps them existing and often to their own detriment. Once they were some contact with the world outside, now it’s all at our finger tips.

  4. I live in the U.S. and have subscribed to Threads for years. I believe that more articles about sewing clothing for men would be welcomed by many women and men, even those who do not sew for men. Sewing skills do not have gender. As to advertising, as long as the products are sewing related, I welcome ads. Fabric stores are rapidly disappearing from many parts of this country and we need to know what products are out there and where we can purchase them. As long as sewing magazines stick to their subject and provide content for all skill levels, I am satisfied.

    1. I agree sewing skills are not gender specific so why are the magazines so female orientated? As for adverts; I would prefer to see small companies be able to advertise rather than the same big corporations. Fabric stores and Haberdasheries are indeed becoming few and far between but they cannot compete and certainly not afford to advertise the same.

  5. I certainly agree with your assessment of many of the magazines much too “Sandy” Also the patterns are very unattractive on the whole.

  6. Dear Mr. I came across your page through your brilliant tutorial of the Singer (“Lidl”) overlocker on youtube. Thanks for that! As for the rant over the sewing magazines I guess I agree mostly. Being a woman who sews I am just a little bit interested in mens wear, because I’ve got 2 sons. And I do miss fun patterns to make something for them. However, I am Norwegian, living in Norway, and we’ve got litterally 1 sewing magazine in Norwegian language. That has made me innovative. I buy whatever magazines i come across, as long as there are patterns included. I find that the German magazines are much more fun, trendy and innovative – and without understanding more than a few words of German – I still manage to make the garments from the patterns! The ads….they are manageable.

  7. My Dad has always sewed. He made clothes for us as children and also made ball gowns for his dance partner (he danced in ballroom competitions). He even altered his best suit this year (he is 87) for a funeral. So, yes, men do sew!

  8. When I lived in the Netherlands I bought , read and used Burda magazine every month. I traced the patterns I wanted: much cheaper than buying individually. It had plenty for men, too – in fact all the family.

  9. I’m totally with you Jamie – I made the same point in a sewing group on FB – lots and Lots of support (mainly from the ladies, but as you say the men are in a minority)- I also have an issue with the sewing patterns that are available – for ladies there are so many different patterns out there – but for men it’s a different story, unless you want a shirt, trousers, shorts, a waistcoat or; if you are particularly lucky, a jacket. There are a few variations on these but if you want something different (that isn’t a costume) you generally have to make your own pattern. Yes, there are some nice indie patterns out there but they are often difficult to find and quite pricey! Sorry, rant over. The solution that was presented to me – which may well be the best one was to create my own magazine. Jamie – what do you think? Should we create an on-line mag to see how it goes….. ?

  10. Totally agree with all the previous comments, even without the missing focus on sewing men. I believe that magazines think the beginner audience is much larger than the experienced one. Whilst it may be true, the experienced audience is likely to be more loyal – if there was a suitable magazine! Threads is the only viable offering presently and I recommend it to my intermediate/advanced participants on my Sewing Project Workshops. I used to subscribe to Burda – even in the early days – but I have too many patterns! 🙄 GREAT idea for a more advanced online magazine. I’d be delighted to write some dressmaking/tailoring articles – also home sewing ones too..

  11. Great article and yes I agree. I live at home with my husband and 3 grown up sons and would love to be able to sew for them more. I think men’s patterns are lacking in general and magazines definitely don’t cater. I have a men’s sewing book ‘The Gentleman’s Wardrobe’ which I have used would would like more choice.

  12. This is a great article and I’m inspired. Can you pattern cut? Why not start making your own menswear patterns? Start a menssew magazine? I am in the process of selling patterns and fabric on my website. I want to help, so will start researching men’s patterns and stock them too. I would be happy to collaborate with you. #gapinthemarket
    Maybe do a questionnaire to see what styles men would like? How many men sew? Go for it! Jenni @itssewsimple

  13. Completely agree with all of this. I used to buy sewing magazines but hadn’t for years until I stumbled upon la Maison Victor as every other title seemed to be the same basic content and I wasn’t learning anything new or more importantly feeling inspired by anything in there. Due to the price too it got to the stage where I would only buy a magazine if I liked the pattern and the magazine was like a little bonus that came with the pattern I would never buy for the magazine itself. Re: menswear I think there is such a meagre selection of clothes for men in the shops it’s almost more important to have a range of inspiring ideas for mens sewing in magazines, as women can often get sewing inspiration and ideas from the high street a lot easier. But some more articles on couture (in the loosest sense) techniques and finishes would certainly be nice!

  14. On the whole I have found that sewing mags tend to try to be all things to all people. Some people have more than one interest, but on the whole we have a main focus of interest. As you correctly comment Threads is the only one that is niche, for dresmakers. ALso nothing for men. Even if men don’t sew themselves, their women folk will have a go!

    I’m sorry I haven’t read any of your pieces. I’m sure they would be the highlight of the mag, but It’s because on the whole they are just as you describe I’ve not purchased.

  15. A great article and agree with most comments, a great idea to start something from scratch on the internet and if it was run by a male sewer it should then offer the content that most of us men need. Still need to cover all levels at some point though and if it was at a sensible cost no doubt could be a success.

  16. Oh man, preach! Here I am doing my thing, working on my life-long dream to be a sewing magazine centerfold, I mean cover model 😂

    Joking aside though, you are of course right, and I doubt things will change even though I would like to see that.

    Perhaps we should organise ourselves, you know, the men who sew. Your hashtag is a good start, perhaps we can start a club and brag about how big the pockets are in our jeans 😉

    1. Joost, what you do already for menswear sewing is amazing! Perhaps we should actually organise ourselves. What about an online magazine? There must be plenty who would be happy to contribute (men and women) who sew for men? Decent articles, awesome tutorials, menswear pattern reviews etc etc. We need to talk! Don’t get me started on pockets 😂…….

      1. Yeah, I totally agree that we should organise. But I don’t really know how to do that in a sustainable way. We all have a lot on out plate as it is.
        But hey, I can’t wait for the first issue of sausage fest sewing 🤣

  17. I’d love to see something shake up the sewing magazine industry! When I returned to sewing a few years back I used to enjoy the newsy sections at the front – it was a quick way to find out about pattern companies, fabric shops, blogs and events I’d not heard of before. These days, I’m not learning anything new. In fact, I’m downright bored of press releases dressed up as ‘news’ and thinly disguised glowing ‘reviews’ of new products from the magazine’s major advertisers. Rumana made an important point on her blog last week about the lack of non-white women on the covers, but of course you’re right that we never see a man on the covers either! I’d like the market to be more diverse, in every way – but perhaps online is the only way to achieve this?

    1. Yes. I am starting to think the same and starting to research. As you say about Rumana (who I 100% support) I just can’t get my head around it! Time to shake the outdated sewing magazines into the 21st century.

  18. Well said. You should bring out your own magazine! I recently bought a self published cross stitch magazine from mrxstitch aka Jamie Chalmers. I think he used an online funding start up website to get the initial money together. I used to be a graphic designer so would be happy to help if you do get something going.

  19. Had to make a comment.
    1. I hardly buy sewing magazines, I find most disappointing. The focus on women’s wear gets to me after a while. Threads is an ok magazine, but I still would not subscribe to it. They has some good articles covering techniques etc but that is about it.
    2. Sewing patterns for men. Sad state of affairs, back in the early 90’s there were more sewing patterns for men from the big 4, but these days, hardly any. Most men’s sewing patterns are boring, what more can you say about it. Burdastyle has some patterns that are a bit more on tread. For personal style reasons, I look at runway clothing and also take cues from women’s wear to create the clothing I like. I sometimes use women’s trouser patterns from burdastyle since they have a much larger selection. I adjust the pattern to let out the waist for the appropriate hip measurement for myself.

    I look forward you to maybe someday you coming up with some patterns and a detailed book on your bespoke tailoring. Also you should consider doing a book that would complement the maison victor issue. Sewing casual clothing and design your wardrobe. The only thing that comes close that I use is Japanese patterns books for menswear. They have much more variety and styles to work with.

  20. Oh man, don’t get me started on this one…..! I’ve had an insight into both sides of the magazine conundrum. I used to have a regular column in a national sewing magazine and a friend of mine used to edit a magazine and I saw the immense pressure she was put under to produce more and more for less and less. Most of the widely available magazines are owned by big publishing companies who have many magazines in their collection and (it seems to me) the sole motivation for the publisher is profit. When that’s the sole motivation, the only things they’re going to publish in those magazines is a) adverts and b) content that will appeal to the biggest audience – in the sewing world that’s women that are fairly new to sewing.
    I totally agree with all your gripes and some of the comments already left here, about the content in sewing mags and the fact that it appears to be duplicated – that’s because it is!! Most sewing mags are just one of several sewing titles owned by the same publisher and what many contributors don’t realise when they sign their contract (if they’re lucky enough to get one) is that they’re signing away their rights to the content they’ve created and agreeing to the publisher re-using said content (often for no additional payment to the contributor) in their other titles, in “book-a-zines” and online.
    I think the main stumbling point with print magazines is stockists – how does a small independent magazine get stocked in the likes of WH Smiths and supermarkets…..? And if not, can you rely on a more niche audience finding and ordering from you online? The US seems to do this much better than us in the UK. Building a loyal tribe of online subscribers to a digital edition seems to be the only option open to us.
    I hope you can find some magic solution to creating something a bit more interesting.

  21. Read the article on you in Sew News. I am 76 and been sewing since I was about 10 or11. Agree with you on the sad state of men’s patterns today. I have been using my old patterns from the 50’s and 60’s that don’t fit using my favorite pattern from Islander Sewing Systems as the basis for new shirts with some style.

    1. As far as mens patterns go, yes there are a few hundred but only represent about 7% of all sewing patterns! The online magazine Bartack I set up is dedicated to JUST menswear.

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